Archive for February, 2011

Chattahoochee High’s Jaron Blossomgame commits to Clemson on basketball scholarship

Chattahoochee High’s Jaron Blossomgame committed to Clemson on a basketball scholarship. The 6-foot-6 junior forward picked the Tigers over offers from Wichita State, Tennessee Tech and Georgia Southern, among others. Blossomgame also had serious interest from Georgia, Minnesota and Iowa.

“A big reason Jaron chose Clemson is that they are in the ACC, which is one of the top conferences in the country,” Chattahoochee coach Kacey Martin said. “Another reason is that [Clemson] is only about an hour and a half away from home. He knew his mom would be excited that she could go watch him play.”

Blossomgame has led Chattahoochee to a 22-3 record, while averaging 23 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. He has 1,232 points and 755 for his Chattahoochee career with one more season left to play.

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Final regular-season basketball rankings: Where are the best region tournaments?

I wrote a story for Tuesday’s AJC about the best 10 region tournaments in metro Atlanta. I’m going to cut and paste that, while adding these tournaments from around the state …

8-AAA boys: West Hall (21-4) is the favorite, but Gainesville (17-7 and Franklin County (19-5) are in the mix at Winder-Barrow.
2-A boys: Wilcox County (19-2) and Lanier County (20-4) got byes to the semifinals.
7-AA boys: Dade County (23-3) and Rockmart (24-2) are the top teams at Georgia Highlands.
3-AAA girls: Washington County (24-0) and Grovetown (23-1) are the favorites at Burke County.
6-AAA boys: Carrollton (17-5) and Troup (19-3) are the top teams playing in LaGrange.

Here are what I think are the 10 most interesting region tournaments this week in metro Atlanta.

4-AAAAA girls: Fourth-ranked North Cobb (22-3) won its last seven regular-season games, beating three ranked teams, to snatch the No. 1 seed. Contending are No. 5 McEachern (19-5), No. 6 Campbell (19-6) and former No. 1 Hillgrove …

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One of state’s top college prospects for 2012 commits early to Auburn (UPDATED)

Milton High's Shaquille Johnson (pictured), along with Miller Grove's Brandon Morris, are my early favorites to win the AJC Slam Dunk Contest (AJC)

Milton High's Shaquille Johnson (pictured), along with Miller Grove's Brandon Morris, are my early favorites to win the AJC Slam Dunk Contest (AJC)

If you’ve watched Milton High play this season this season, Shaquille Johnson is easy to spot. He’s the one who plays “above the rim,” leaping over much taller players for rebounds and his trademark dunks.

On Saturday night, Johnson jumped forward with his college decision, committing to Auburn.

The 6-foot-4 guard was also considering early offers from Georgia State and Liberty, among others, and had high interest from Georgia, Georgia Tech and Clemson.

“I have good relationships with [the Auburn coaches] and I feel like I can go in there and get good minutes as a freshman,” Johnson told the AJC.

Milton High coach David Boyd said Auburn got a steal with Johnson, who averages 8 points and 6 rebounds, while shooting 68 percent from the field. “He’s a great athlete, a great shot blocker … very unselfish.”

Johnson doesn’t start for …

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Mark Richt and UGA recruits Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell pay tribute to deceased Valdosta High School football player (UPDATED)

UGA coach Mark Richt, along with two of his top football recruits, paid a special tribute to a deceased Valdosta High School football player (AJC file photo)

UGA coach Mark Richt, along with two of his top football recruits, paid a special tribute to a deceased Valdosta High School football player (AJC file photo)

At least 10 people have forwarded me the same email this week about UGA coach Mark Richt and two of the state’s elite high school football players, the UGA-bound tandem of Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell, participating in a special tribute to a Valdosta High School student who died last month. Maybe you had it sent your way or saw it somewhere posted on Facebook.

Well it turns out that this email forward (author unknown) is true, said Rome’s mother, LaVerne Rome, who is the District Parent Involvement Coordinator for Lowndes County Schools.

James Eunice, 17, drowned while duck hunting in a nearby lake on Jan. 15 and his body was found two weeks later, according to the Valdosta Daily Times. Eunice was an honors student with a 4.0 GPA and played football this past season at Valdosta High with Rome and Mitchell. His funeral …

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Guess which high school football coaching legend is back in business? And guess where?

Tim McFarlin, who led Roswell to the 2006 Class AAAAA state championship, was hired at Blessed Trinity (AJC)

Tim McFarlin, who led Roswell to the 2006 Class AAAAA state championship, was hired at Blessed Trinity (AJC)

Blessed Trinity didn’t have to look far to find a new head football coach. They found one right across the street.

Blessed Trinity has hired former Roswell head coach Tim McFarlin to take over its football program. McFarlin was Roswell’s coach for 10 seasons, leading the Hornets to the 2006 Class AAAAA state championship game.

The Catholic private school hired former Roswell High coach Tim McFarlin on Wednesday. McFarlin was introduced to the Blessed Trinity football players in a short meeting.

“He’s a great coach; he’s from the Roswell area, and he wanted to get back into it,” said Blessed Trinity athletic director Ricky Turner. “It ended being a great fit for him and a great fit for us.”

McFarlin was Roswell’s coach for 10 seasons, leading the Hornets to the 2006 Class AAAAA state championship game (they tied Peachtree Ridge 14-14). McFarlin retired after the 2007 …

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Georgia Tech vs. Westminster for state swim meet

What is your opinion of having this weekend’s state championship meet at Georgia Tech compared to the traditional site of Westminster Academy?

Peachtree Ridge coach Jeremy Laird: I love it. Georgia Tech is neutral territory. At Westminster, they have a great place but it was a private school and I felt like we were swimming in someone’s backyard. It’s nice to be at [1996 Olympic] facility. Our kids are pumped up about it. Some of them swam there for their summer teams and they enjoyed it. I can’t really think of any negatives about having it at Georgia Tech. I think it is a great move. Another thing about Westminster, they didn’t seem to have enough space. At Georgia Tech, the spectator seating is a lot better.”

Lassiter coach Glenn Meeden: We absolutely love it. Some of our kids swam there through their various club teams — and every single one of them love it. They think it’s a great pool and they think it’s a fast pool. Plus, there is the history, being the site of the …

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Three dynasties in swimming try to extend championship tradition at state meet

michael carvell

The AJC

Three swimming dynasties will try to keep their streaks intact at this weekend’s state championship meet at Georgia Tech.

The Marist girls are the four-time defending state champions of Class AAAA-A, while both the Brookwood boys and Lassiter girls have won three consecutive Class AAAAA state titles. The Greater Atlanta Christian boys captured their first state trophy in Class AAAA-A last year.

This season’s meet will be held Friday and Saturday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. Here’s a breakdown of the three powerhouses:

Marist girls

They may have the best chance at repeating after going undefeated in dual meets this season. The War Eagles also won the Madeleine Brown Invitational, but showed vulnerability a couple of weeks ago by losing the Metro Championships to Westminster by six points. St. Pius, Lambert, Johns Creek, Etowah, Sequoyah, Pope and Chattahoochee are top threats.

“I feel like our chances are pretty good with almost everyone returning from last …

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Defending state champion wears pink jerseys for cancer awareness

Columbia-girls

The Columbia High girls, the defending Class AAA state champions, donned pink jerseys for cancer awareness (Photo by DeKalb Schools SID/Mark Brock)

The defending Class AAA state champions donned pink uniforms instead of their usual blue and orange as the Columbia High girls took the floor against Stone Mountain this week in an effort to raise Breast Cancer Awareness.

The team warmed up in pink Breast Cancer Awareness t-shirts and played the game in their all pink uniforms with black numerals and black and white trim on the sides. Players even donned pink shoelaces to complete the package.

Their fans joined in the effort by wearing pink “Columbia Lady Eagles Fight Breast Cancer” t-shirts and sweatshirts. The gym was decorated with Breast Cancer Awareness banners and pink balloons

The coaches got into the act with pink shirts, ties and jackets and also honored the pink shirted girls’ step team with pink roses for their participation in the night’s festivities.

Columbia …

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How would you grade the basketball referees in Georgia?

Report card time for GHSA basketball officials

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What do you think of the quality of officiating in the state of Georgia for high school basketball?

We’re interested in your feedback. Share your stories and experiences with referees this year.

What did you see that you like? What didn’t you like? The more specific the examples from game situations, the better.

What could be improved upon? How would you make those improvements? (Remember, it’s a tough economy)

Note: Please don’t use this as a forum to randomly bash officiating. I know a lot of good officials, and they do the best they can to get it right. No one is perfect.

Let’s hear what you have to say … and again, the more specific the examples, the better. Please post below.

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‘The Creator’ — North Springs high-scoring machine John Burke

North Springs High guard John Burke has the gift of creativity.

The 6-foot-3 senior is the focus of opposing defenses and still finds ways to score, averaging 27 points. On Tuesday, Burke scored 24 in the 73-67 loss to Riverwood, which was led by Austin Smoak with 21 points.

“When people come to the gym for our games, they want to see a show,” Burke said. “I try to put on that show for them every time I go out there.”

Burke also is extremely creative away from the basketball court. He worked with a couple of family members to develop a device to accelerate the healing of sprained ankles. He received a provisional patent and has entered into a partnership with Emory, where his father David Burke is chairman of the department of rehabilitation medicine.

It is Burke’s ability to score points that has created a buzz around North Springs basketball. Everybody knows that the Spartans count heavily on Burke for points, yet there doesn’t seem to be much that defenses can do to stop …

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Down to the wire: Final week to sort out seeds for region playoffs

Region tournaments are a great thing, but they tend to make some of these late regular-season games less meaningful.

Take Region 7-AAAAA. Some huge games are being played, both boys and girls games, in this region this week. Norcross’ boys are surging and could wind up winning the region’s No. 1 seed despite a terrible start. North Gwinnett’s girls play No. 1 Norcross in a rematch of a game that North Gwinnett won last month on Friday.

But the problem is that those seeds are just for the region tournament. It’s the tourney that decides the region champ.

Here’s a list of games matching Top 10 teams in metro ATL this week. When I get a chance, I’ll add the rest of the state, but this was compiled for the print edition of the AJC, so metro was the focus.

These games are big, but are they that big?

Below all this is the rankings. We’ve got W-L records this week, although this ain’t football, where every score is documented in a timely and accurate way. So if there are errors, …

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North Carolina coach Roy Williams sits in stands to scout Miller Grove’s Tony Parker

Do you know me? I was Mark Fox's mentor and I want Tony Parker (AP photo)

Do you know me? I was Mark Fox's mentor and I want Tony Parker (AP photo)

University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams was treated like a rock star at Miller Grove’s basketball game over the weekend.

Williams signed autographs and posed for pictures while catching glimpses of Miller Grove’s 49-46 win over Southwest DeKalb. Williams was in attendance to scout the recipient of one of North Carolina’s most recent scholarship offers — Tony Parker, the 6-foot-9, 270-pound power forward who is one of the nation’s top college basketball prospects for 2012.

“Oh yeah, everybody recognized Roy Williams as soon as he walked into the gym,” Miller Grove coach Sharman White said with a laugh.

Parker already holds more than 50 early offers, including North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech and UGA. Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt and UGA’s Mark Fox (they are both regulars) also sat in the stands to watch the two talent-loaded teams. Southwest Dekalb is led by 6-8 power forward Shaq Goodwin, another …

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Valdosta State signs 12 Metro girls for inaugural team

Valdosta State soccer coach M elissa Heinz signed her first recruiting class for the team’s inaugural season and it includes 22 freshmen, 3 sophomores and six juniors.

There are 12 from Metro Atlanta schools. Below are bios of those signees provided by Valdosta State.

Anna Hardin, 5-9, G, Alpharetta/South Forsyth

- Earned the Iron Eagle Award at South Forsyth… Named to All-County team… Played for AFC Lightning 93 Elite… Played for ASA Extreme 93 Black.

- Coach’s quote: “A keeper that will work hard and give her best every day.”

- Hardin’s quote on VSU: “When I first saw the school I fell in love with it. It will also be fun being on the first soccer team for Valdosta State.”

Emily Gray Powell, 5-7, F, Newnan,/The Heritage School

– Named All-Region and All-State three years running… Coweta County Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2010… Tallied 49 goals, the most goals scored in Georgia Independent School Association in 2009… Earned Golden Boot Award …

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Ex-UGA recruit Zack Witchett signs with Hinds Junior College (UPDATED)

RELATED: Georgia’s elite 2012 college football prospects await recruiting’s celebrity status (click here)

Ex-UGA recruit Zack Witchett, who had his scholarship revoked by the Bulldogs less than a month ago, was hoping for happy ending with another Div. I FBS school.

Unfortunately for Witchett, he’ll have to wait at least another two years for that possibility.

The Booker T. Washington two-way athlete  signed with Hinds (Miss.) Junior College on Wednesday.

“He’s disappointed it didn’t work out with Georgia and then some other D1 school after that … but life goes on,” Washington coach Stanley Pritchett said. “Zack has got to move on and work hard. Hopefully, he can get back to that D1 level in a couple of years.”

Less than a month ago, Witchett thought he was headed to Georgia, the school he committed to last summer. However, UGA assistant Tony Ball called Witchett and his coach on Jan. 5 to inform him that the football scholarship was being revoked due to off-the-field …

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Stephenson High has most D1 recruits in Georgia with 9

Stephenson High had the most players in Georgia sign with major colleges on Wednesday. Nine players from the DeKalb County school signed with Div. I FBS schools: Kadetrix Marcus (South Carolina), Jared Boyd (Duke), David Stevenson (UConn), Willie Davis (South Florida), Tarik Cook (Central Florida), Reggis Ball (Memphis), Colin Anderson (UAB), Jordan Tarver (Kent State) and Preston Smith (Mississippi State).

– By Michael Carvell, AJC College Recruiting

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